February 20, 2006

Sweater Had Faces All Over It, Famous Faces Knitted All Over It

내게로 와 (Come to Me) / Clazziquai Project

Fill This Night / Clazziquai Project

The first two bands you learn about when you arrive in Korea as a foreigner are Epik High and Clazziquai Project. Along with pop singer/ridiculous dancer/snazzy dresser Rain, whose recent world tour included stops at Madison Square Garden, these two groups are very much responsible for helping spread the Korean wave throughout Asia and beyond. Why is it a "wave" rather than a fire? Probably because it's not exciting enough to be a fire. Unless, of course, you're a married Japanese woman unhealthily obsessed with stars from Korean television dramas. Then it's a fire. In your loins.

Seriously, Korean drama stars like Bae Yong Joon (pictured above and better known by his Japanese name Yon-sama) are gods. Their faces are on billboards, calendars, shirts, socks, moons... everything. In that always-trustworthy-on-contemporary-popular-Asian-culture-issues publication USA Today, Paul Wiseman writes,

Hiroshi Saito holds one of the most perilous jobs in this city of 12 million people. He's the security guard responsible for keeping hundreds of middle-age Japanese women away from a sculpture displaying the toned torso of South Korean heartthrob Bae Yong Joon.
An especially tough job because, supposedly, this sculpture comes to life if you squeeze it hard enough. And once the real Bae Yong Joon is unfrozen, there will be no stopping him: he has reportedly physically assaulted (i.e. slapped around) over 30 different managers and personal assistants already. Not to mention his genome, which was manipulated by Dr. Kwang so that he comes back stronger after each death (just like Superman's good buddy Doomsday).

The fervor over Korean music (as opposed to television and film) is a little more mellow, but Clazziquai Project is still wildly popular in and around Korea, providing guest spots and remixes on just about every big new K-Pop release. Their sound is clean and loungey, a little like Portishead lite. Boring, basically. But if you're interested in Korean culture at the moment, or drugged out enough to enjoy watered-down trip-hop, these two singles will be a grand treat. They're from Instant Pig (2004) and Color Your Soul (2005) respectively. No idea how one declines in albumtitle-making abilities so severely in the course of only one year. Zoloft, probably.

If for some reason it's genuinely good music you're looking for, check out the Valentine's day post at the always-fashionable Fluxblog.

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